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Updated: 2 hours 36 min ago

Bluetooth Battery Level Indicators May Soon Be Coming To Android

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 18:40
The folks over at XDA Developers are reporting that Android may be getting a new feature that could help users identify how much battery life is remaining in their Bluetooth wireless headphones. The feature for "[retrieving] battery level information of [a] remote device" was discovered in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Android and Me reports: This hasn't made it to final release just yet, but when it does, it will make it easy for users to quickly ascertain how much battery life is remaining in the Bluetooth headphones that are connected to their device. It doesn't just mean support for Bluetooth headphones, either, as Bluetooth speakers and other accessories that run on battery power will be supported, too. Unfortunately there's no telling on when this feature will see the light of day for the public. There's no set timeframe between a feature that's part of the AOSP and rolling out in a final, public release of the mobile operating system. Some manufacturers have already built support for this feature into their phones, including OnePlus, Samsung, and LG. So while it might not be a completely brand new feature on Android, it would still be good for the Android platform as a whole to support the feature in the stock build.

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AMD Unveils Radeon RX Vega Series Consumer Graphics Cards Starting At $399

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 18:00
MojoKid writes: AMD has officially lifted the veil on its new Radeon RX consumer graphics line-up, featuring the company's next-generation Vega GPU architecture. Initially, there are four cards in the Radeon RX Vega line-up, the standard air-cooled Radeon RX Vega 64, a Radeon RX Vega 64 Limited Edition with stylized metal fan shroud, the liquid-cooled Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid, and the lower-cost Radeon RX Vega 56. At the heart of all Radeon RX Vega series cards is the Vega 10 GPU which is comprised of roughly 12.5 billion transistors and is manufactured using a 14nm FinFET LPP process. Vega 10 can reliably reach the 1.7GHz range, whereas AMD's previous gen Fiji hovered around 1GHz. The base GPU clock speed of the air-cooled Vega 64 is 1,247MHz with a boost clock of 1,546MHz. There is 8GB of HBM2 memory on-board that offers up peak bandwidth of 484GB/s. All told, the Radeon RX Vega 64 is capable of 25.3 TFLOPs (half-precision) of compute performance. The Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid-Cooled Edition has the same GPU configuration, but with higher base and boost clocks -- 1,406MHz and 1,677MHz, respectively. The lower cost Radeon RX Vega 56 features the same Vega 10 GPU, but 8 of its CUs have been disabled and its clocks are somewhat lower. Although AMD touts a number of efficiency improvements, the Vega RX series requires some serious power. Vega 56 board power is in the 210 Watt range, while the top-end liquid-cooled card hits 345 Watts. AMD claims top-end Vega cards will be competitive with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080 series of cards. AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics cards are expected to ship on August 14th.

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FCC Says Its Specific Plan To Stop DDoS Attacks Must Remain Secret

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 17:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Democratic lawmakers have been exchanging letters about a May 8 incident in which the public comments website was disrupted while many people were trying to file comments on Pai's plan to dismantle net neutrality rules. The FCC says it was hit by DDoS attacks. The commission hasn't revealed much about what it's doing to prevent future attacks, but it said in a letter last month that it was researching "additional solutions" to protect the comment system. Democratic Leaders of the House Commerce and Oversight committees then asked Pai what those additional solutions are, but they didn't get much detail in return. "Given the ongoing nature of the threats to disrupt the Commission's electronic comment ling system, it would undermine our system's security to provide a specific roadmap of the additional solutions to which we have referred," the FCC chief information officer wrote. "However, we can state that the FCC's IT staff has worked with commercial cloud providers to implement Internetbased solutions to limit the amount of disruptive bot-related activity if another bot-driven event occurs." The CIO's answers to lawmakers' questions were sent along with a letter from Pai to Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), DeGette (D-Colo.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), and Gerald Connolly (D-Va.). The letter is dated July 21, and it was posted to the FCC's website on July 28.

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The Chiefs of Facebook, Google and Other Tech Giants Aren't Committing To Testify To the US Congress On Net Neutrality

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 16:40
Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix -- along with their telecom industry foes -- have not committed to sending their chief executives to testify before the U.S. Congress in September on the future of net neutrality. From a report: Not a single one of those companies told the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is convening the hearing, that they would send their leaders to Washington, D.C., in the coming weeks, even at a time when the Trump administration is preparing to kill the open internet rules currently on the government's books. The panel initially asked those four tech giants, as well as AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon, to indicate their plans for attendance by July 31. Now, the committee is pushing back its deadline indefinitely, as it continues its quest to engage the countryâ(TM)s tech and telecom business leaders on net neutrality. "The committee has been engaging in productive conversations with all parties and will extend the deadline for response in order to allow for those discussions to continue," a spokesman said.

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Microsoft Won't Patch 20-Yr-Old SMBv1 Vulnerability (You Should Just Turn the Service Off)

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 16:00
An anonymous reader shares a news post: Following the recent WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks, Microsoft recommended all Windows 10 users to remove the unused but vulnerable SMBv1 file sharing protocol from their PCs. This is because both variants of the ransomware actually used the same SMBv1 exploit to replicate through network systems, even though it seems that Petya mostly affected Windows PCs in Ukraine. Anyway, if you haven't turned off the protocol on the PC already, you really should: Not only because new WannaCry/Petya variants could once again use the same vulnerability again to encrypt your files, but because another 20-year-old flaw has just been unveiled during the recent DEF CON hacker conference. The SMB security flaw called "SMBLoris" was discovered by security researchers at RiskSense, who explained that it can lead to DoS attacks affecting every version of the SMB protocol and all versions of Windows since Windows 2000. More importantly, a Raspberry Pi and just 20 lines of Python code are enough to put a Windows server to its knees.

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Trump Removes Anthony Scaramucci From Communications Director Role

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 15:20
Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, and Glenn Thrush reporting for The New York Times: President Trump has decided to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source), three people close to the decision said Monday, relieving him just days after Mr. Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president's senior staff. Mr. Scaramucci's abrupt removal came just 10 days after the wealthy New York financier was brought on to the West Wing staff, a move that convulsed an already chaotic White House and led to the departures of Sean Spicer, the former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the president's first chief of staff. From a report: Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director," the statement read. "Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best." Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to brief the press corps, on-camera, at 12:45 pm PST. Scaramucci was given the job on Friday, June 21, and by Thursday, July 27, became something of a national laughingstock when The New Yorker reported his profanity-laced conversation with the magazine's Washington correspondent the night before. He was hired by the president to take charge of a communications operation in disarray, and his hiring coincided with the departure of White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Scaramucci, in his conversation with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, was extremely critical of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and predicted, correctly, that then-chief of staff Reince Priebus would be removed from his position. Following the publication of Lizza's article, it became an open question in Washington whether Scaramucci would keep his job.

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LinkedIn Says It's Illegal To Scrape Its Website Without Permission

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 14:40
A small company called hiQ is locked in a high-stakes battle over web scraping with LinkedIn. It's a fight that could determine whether an anti-hacking law can be used to curtail the use of scraping tools across the web. From a report: HiQ scrapes data about thousands of employees from public LinkedIn profiles, then packages the data for sale to employers worried about their employees quitting. LinkedIn, which was acquired by Microsoft last year, sent hiQ a cease-and-desist letter warning that this scraping violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the controversial 1986 law that makes computer hacking a crime. HiQ sued, asking courts to rule that its activities did not, in fact, violate the CFAA. James Grimmelmann, a professor at Cornell Law School, told Ars that the stakes here go well beyond the fate of one little-known company. "Lots of businesses are built on connecting data from a lot of sources," Grimmelmann said. He argued that scraping is a key way that companies bootstrap themselves into "having the scale to do something interesting with that data." [...] But the law may be on the side of LinkedIn -- especially in Northern California, where the case is being heard. In a 2016 ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over California, found that a startup called Power Ventures had violated the CFAA when it continued accessing Facebook's servers despite a cease-and-desist letter from Facebook.

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Apple is About To Do Something Their Programmers Definitely Don't Want

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 14:00
Last week, The Wall Street Journal had a big feature on Apple Campus, the big new beautiful office the company has spent north of $5 billion on. The profile, in which the reporter interviewed Apple's design chief Jony Ive, also mentioned about an open space where all the programmers would sit and work. Ever since the profile came out, several people have expressed their concerns about the work environment for the developers. American entrepreneur and technologist Anil Dash writes: [...] There have been countless academic studies confirming the same result: Workers in open plan offices are frustrated, distracted and generally unhappy. That's not to say there's no place for open plan in an offices -- there can be great opportunities to collaborate and connect. For teams like marketing or communications or sales, sharing a space might make a lot of sense. But for tasks that require being in a state of flow? The science is settled. The answer is clear. The door is closed on the subject. Or, well, it would be. If workers had a door to close. Now, when it comes to jobs or roles that need to be in a state of flow, programming may be the single best example of a task that benefits from not being interrupted. And Apple has some of the best coders in the world, so it's just common sense that they should be given a great environment. That's why it was particularly jarring to see this side note in the WSJ's glowing article about Apple's new headquarters: "Coders and programmers are concerned their work surroundings will be too noisy and distracting." Usually, companies justify putting programmers into an open office plan for budget reasons. It does cost more to make enough room for every coder to have an office with a door that closes. But given that Apple's already invested $5 billion into this new campus, complete with iPhone-influenced custom-built toilets for the space, it's hard to believe this decision was about penny-pinching. The other possible argument for skipping private offices would be if a company didn't know that's what its workers would prefer.

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Free Movement of EU Citizens To Britain Will End in 2019

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 13:20
Free movement of EU citizens to Britain will end when the country leaves the EU in March 2019, Theresa May's spokesman said Monday, moving to contain a Cabinet row over immigration after Brexit. From a report: Downing Street (headquarters of the government of the United Kingdom) said on Monday it was "wrong" to suggest free movement would "continue as it is now" once Britain leaves the EU. It comes following days of confusion and rumours of infighting between Cabinet colleagues over the crucial issue of immigration after Brexit.

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GitHub Faces 'Major Service Outage' [Update]

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 13:00
Code repository GitHub is facing a major service outage, it said moments ago. Earlier today, the company said it was facing a minor service outage. The downtime comes less than two weeks after it was facing another "minor service outage," which lasted for several hours. The cause for today's disruption remains unknown. The open source company's Twitter feed suggests it has faced several issues over the past few months. Update: GitHub reports all the services are now operational.

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Hackers Break Into HBO's Networks, May Have Leaked 'Game of Thrones' Script

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 12:40
An anonymous reader shares a report: Hackers have broken into the networks of HBO and reportedly leaked unreleased episodes of a number of shows, as well as the script for next week's "Game of Thrones" episode. Altogether, they have reportedly obtained a total of 1.5 terabyte of data. HBO confirmed the intrusion in a statement sent to Variety: "HBO recently experienced a cyber incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information. We immediately began investigating the incident and are working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms. Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold."

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It Is Easy To Expose Users' Secret Web Habits, Say Researchers

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 12:00
An anonymous reader shares a BBC report: Two German researchers say they have exposed the porn-browsing habits of a judge, a cyber-crime investigation and the drug preferences of a politician. The pair obtained huge amounts of information about the browsing habits of three million German citizens from companies that gather "clickstreams." These are detailed records of everywhere that people go online. The researchers argue such data -- which some firms scoop up and use to target ads -- should be protected. The data is supposed to be anonymised, but analysis showed it could easily be tied to individuals. People's browsing history is often used to tailor marketing campaigns. The results of the research by Svea Eckert and Andreas Dewes were revealed at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas this weekend. The pair found that 95% of the data they obtained came from 10 popular browser extensions. "What these companies are doing is illegal in Europe but they do not care," said Ms Eckert, adding that the research had kicked off a debate in Germany about how to curb the data gathering habits of the firms.

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Russia Bans VPNs To Stop Users From Looking at Censored Sites

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 11:20
Russia is cracking down on software that allows users to view internet sites banned by the government. From a report: President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill that prohibits services, including virtual private networks (VPNs), that enable users to skirt government censorship efforts. The law will take effect on November 1. Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor maintains a blacklist of thousands of websites. Leonid Levin, chairman of a parliamentary committee on information policy and communications, said the law signed by Putin does not "introduce any new restrictions and especially no censorship." "My colleagues only included the restriction of access to information that is already forbidden by law or a court decision," he told state news agency RIA Novosti earlier this month.

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Travis Kalanick To Uber CEO Candidates: I'm 'Steve Jobsing' It And Will Return

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:40
Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode: Warring factions within factions, conflicting back-channeling, intense media scrutiny, questionable foreign influences and a capricious leader whose jarring moves leave everyone in a state of perpetual uncertainly. The Trump administration, right? Well, yes, but also Uber, as it nears its much anticipated decision on who will be its next CEO. And, according to sources, that top leader is not going to be a woman, as the board of the car-hailing company struggles to move forward. To add to the drama: Some directors worry that its former CEO Travis Kalanick -- who was ousted -- is trying to game the outcome in his favor, after he told several people that he was "Steve Jobs-ing it." It is a reference to the late leader of Apple, who was fired from the company, only to later return in triumph.

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Apple's Next iPhone: Facial-Recognition, All-Screen Design

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:00
Apple may have just revealed the features you could expect in the next iPhone. Last week, the company released the firmware of the HomePod, a smart speaker which it will begin selling later this year. In the code, the company has accidentally spilled some features about at least one of the iPhone models. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith looked at the code to find that the next iPhone is going to feature facial recognition and a brand new "bezel-less" design. From a report: The near bezel-less design has long been expected, with leaks and rumours suggesting that Apple was following Samsung's design moves with the Galaxy S8 and producing a smartphone that resembles Android-creator Andy Rubin's upcoming Essential phone. Apple is not the first company to use IR-based face recognition as a means of unlocking devices and authenticating users. Microsoft's Windows Hello IR-based face recognition is found in its Surface line as well as Windows 10 computers from other manufacturers.

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Football-Playing Robots Compete At RoboCup 2017

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 07:30
An anonymous reader quotes Phys.org: With steely focus, player number 3 scored a stunning opening goal in the first few minutes of the high-stakes football match between a dominant Bordeaux and their plucky Chinese opponents. But as the crowds cheered, the pint-sized player, known as Arya, showed none of the customary swagger of triumphant strikers. In fact, robot number 3 and its teammates showed no emotion at all as they continued to exterminate their rivals' hopes of victory at RoboCup 2017 in Japan. The game, which Bordeaux won 4-0, was one of the gripping final matches in a four-day event that saw about 3,000 researchers and engineering students from 40 countries displaying the prowess of their latest robotic inventions on the football pitch. Ranging in design from humanoids with human faces to more skeletal contraptions, the robots were programmed to be self-directed and played strategically without being given instructions. The robots "see" using a camera installed in their heads, while installed with artificial intelligence to recognise the spacing and objects in the sight... [A]bility to play as a team was the "winning factor" in Bordeaux University's triumph, according to associate professor Olivier Ly, who acted as coach and positioned his team's players. "We developed lots of features on the team play... The robots play together, try to do some passes," he said. Robot teamwork "was a completely unresearched area for computer engineers" when the competition started 20 years ago, according to the president of the RoboCup Federation.

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